After a journey of around two years, a spacecraft of NASA, OSIRIS-REx arrived at the ancient asteroid Bennu on December 3. OSIRIS-REx stands for NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
For almost a year, the spacecraft will study and conduct a survey on the asteroid using five scientific instruments with an aim of selecting a safe and secure location for sample collection. The surveyed sample will be returned to the Earth in the year 2023.
On December 31, OSIRIS-REx will go into orbit around the asteroid. Before U.S., Japan is the only country to have accomplished something like this till now.
The NASA scientists are willing to study the material from a carbon-rich asteroid like dark Bennu. This could actually have some evidence of the solar system dating back to the ancient era, almost 4.5 billion years ago.
The spacecraft aims to collect around 60 grams of gravel and dust. Instead of landing, it would use a 10-foot robotic arm after two years momentarily to touch down and vacuum up particles. Bennu is considered to be a potentially hazardous asteroid.